Before the Colorado mountain town of Durango became famous for the racing exploits of local champions like Ned Overend, Lisa Muhich, Greg Herbold, and John Tomac, and, of course, waaay before Quinn Simmons came along, there was Ed Zink. While best known as the proprietor of the Mountain Bike Specialists bike shop located on Main Street in D-Town, Ed was so much more – perhaps best evidenced by the recognition and official proclamation handed down by Colorado Govenor John Hickenlooper marking March 1 as Ed Zink Day.
CRASHES AND LAUGHS
I first met Ed back in 1987 when I traveled to Durango to cover the NORBA National finals. Arriving a few days early, I borrowed a bike from Ed to ride around town and check out the local trails. In typical fashion, I crashed the bike while riding down the ramp at the back of the shop and took out a brake lever in the wrought iron railing. Felling like a complete idiot, I returned the bike just minutes after I’d left and Zink just laughed before handing over another bike.
The following year I visited in the heart of winter to do an off-season training story with Team Specialized riders; Ned Overend, Lisa Muhich and Daryl Price. One afternoon we headed over to Ed’s beautiful ranch to try our hand at riding his snowmobile. Despite my throttle-twisting history, the sled’s power scared me to death…and yes, I crashed that too.
Over the years as my infatuation with all things Durango deepened in my heart, I would look for any excuse to travel there. I loved visiting his shop (originally known as The Outdoorsman, later Mountain Bike Specialists) to check out the veritable museum of cycling history found on the walls as well as to talk shop with Ed and long-time manager John Glover. Both of them were as far from being city slickers as you could imagine and I found great value in their country-bred charm and neighborliness.
THE BIG DEAL
In addition to all Ed did promoting NORBA Nationals and the Ironhorse Bicycle Classic, there is no doubt that it was his vision, hard work, and international influence that convinced the Euros to award the city as the venue for the first-ever UCI World Mountain Bike Championships in 1990. That my friends remains the most epic weekend of mountain biking that I’ve witnessed in my 30-plus years of covering the sport.
From Ned Overend’s epic duel-to-the-death for the rainbow jersey with Thomas Frischknecht, to Greg Herbold and Juli Furtado’s big wins, and of course Tomac’s drop-bar antics, the weekend’s stage was set for history to be made – and it was.
As a businessman, philanthropist, cowboy, husband, father, and race promoter, the 71 year-old Ed Zink was a success who never forgot the values he learned growing up in Durango. I always enjoyed his down home personality and wry sense of humor. In Ed you’d find a forceful man of action behind a façade of a quiet observer. For all those reasons, Ed was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in 1992.
My condolences go out to his wife Patty, children Brian, Tim and Christy, employees at the bike shop and everyone in town and throughout the industry who recognized in Ed a passion and dedication for cycling that will be hard to replace.
Rest in Peace Ed – thank you for all you’ve done for the sport…and for me.
Ed’s official obituary in the Durango Herald.